Welcome Back Dear Readers,
This time I am visited by a returning authoress, who visited my very own blog, last year with her book, “The Assistant” namely the lovely Riana Everly.
Welcome Back Riana!
Riana’s new book, “Through a Different Lens” is A tale of second glances and second chances
Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the aloof and arrogant Mr. Darcy since he insulted her at a village dance several months before. But an unexpected conversation with a startling turn of phrase suddenly causes her to reassess everything she thought she knew about the infuriating and humourless gentleman.
Elizabeth knows something of people who think differently. Her young cousin in London has always been different from his siblings and peers, and Lizzy sees something of this boy’s unusual traits in the stern gentleman from Derbyshire whose presence has plagued her for so long. She approaches him in friendship and the two begin a tentative association. But is Lizzy’s new understanding of Mr. Darcy accurate? Or was she right the first time? And will the unwelcome appearance of a nemesis from the past destroy any hopes they might have of happiness?
!!Warning!! This variation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice depicts our hero as having a neurological difference. If you need your hero to be perfect, this might not be the book for you. But if you like adorable children, annoying birds, and wonderful dogs, and are open to a character who struggles to make his way in a world he does not quite comprehend, with a heroine who can see the man behind his challenges, and who celebrates his strengths while supporting his weaknesses, then read on! You, too, can learn what wonders can be found when we see the familiar through a different lens.
Authoress Bio of our dear Riana!
Riana Everly was born in South Africa but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specializing in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11 and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
Riana’s second novel, The Assistant, was awarded the Jane Austen Award by Jane Austen Readers’ Awards, and her debut novel, Teaching Eliza, was listed on a list of 2017 Favourite Books on the blog Savvy Verse & Wit. For both of these honours, she is delighted and very proud!
Dear Readers, I have put some questions to Riana, about her book, and here they are;
- How did you come up with a Darcy/Gardiner who have the Asperger’s syndrome?
I had thought for a long time that Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a type “high-functioning” autism. A lot of what we see of him in Pride and Prejudice fits with the traits of Asperger’s. More importantly, his own words at Rosings really resonate with one of the main characteristics of the autism spectrum: “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.” And Elizabeth just goads him and complains that he doesn’t try enough. But what if he really cannot understand all those unspoken pieces of communication that most of us take so much for granted?
I then wondered what would happen if Elizabeth did realize that Darcy isn’t just being a jerk but has some issue that makes socializing difficult. The best way she would know this is if she had someone she loved with a similar condition. Knowing the close relationship between Austen’s Lizzy Bennet and the Gardiners, I imagined a cousin with autism, who had taught her as much as she taught him. And this is how Sammy Gardiner came into being.
- Do you have personal experience with this “condition”?
These days, with increasing awareness of autism, almost everybody knows someone on the spectrum. I could name all sorts of friends with children somehow affected, some very lightly, others quite profoundly. In my family, my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s several years ago. He is just on the very edge of the spectrum, and most of the time seems perfectly “normal,” but even there I can see the challenges he has with some aspects of non-verbal communication, such as tone or voice or understanding figurative language.
What I have also learned from my son, however, is that along with the challenges can come amazing gifts. He thinks differently; his brain works differently. He can’t tell from my voice that I’m getting angry, but he does crazy math in his head. He speaks four languages fluently, is learning two more, and composes amazing music. So, I can’t call his version of Asperger’s a disability. Rather, it’s a different ability.
- Why you chose to write it as the primary element of problem for Darcy?
Partly, I wanted to explore this side of Austen’s Darcy. I took her character and pushed him just a little further along the spectrum, emphasising his autistic traits rather than forcing them on him. Partly, I wanted to write a story where the hero is not perfect, but is a hero nonetheless. Darcy and Sammy are heroes not in spite of their neurological differences, but because of them. Lizzy doesn’t try to fix Darcy. She tries to help him, but she accepts and loves him for who he is.
I didn’t write this book with a strong message in mind, but I wanted to show how when we open our eyes to what’s really important, we can see all sorts of wonderful things that have been hiding right in plain sight all along.
- How do you get your ideas for your books?
Ideas come from all different places. Sometimes there is something in the original text that makes me think, “what if…” like how this story came about. Sometimes a small story from the history books sparks an idea, or a minor character cries out for more attention. That’s how The Assistant began—with a question about how the Gardiners met. I have two JAFF mysteries written, (but not yet published) with plans for some more, where Mary Bennet finds that sitting on the edges and watching everyone else have the fun actually makes her a pretty good detective, because she sees and hears so much.
Another unpublished novel I have sitting on my computer casts Lizzy and Darcy into a world of spies and espionage as England is at war with Napoleon’s France, and that one began with the thought, “What if Mr. Bennet wasn’t who he said he was?” There are so many sources of inspiration. They all begin with one question.
- What made you write at the very beginning?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I keep finding short stories that I wrote when I was a child. Most of them I had completely forgotten about, but they’re in my handwriting, so they must have come from my brain! About five years ago I set myself a challenge to try a full-length novel, which was a modern P&P digression, and I was more surprised than I thought when I finally completed the 100,000-word-long manuscript. It was so much fun to write, and I loved getting into the heads of my characters and watching them as they came to life and told me what they were going to do next.
This was like an addict’s first taste of something, I think. Once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. Luckily, writing isn’t so bad for my health (except when I write and don’t exercise) and it doesn’t make me a dangerous driver (except when I get so lost in thought about what will happen next), so it’s fairly harmless addiction. And if it makes other people smile, then that’s wonderful too!
And Finally, the Giveaway which I know all of you dear readers have been waiting for, namely an opportunity to win a copy of this amazing, new- sighted book.
I’m giving away five copies of Through a Different Lens to readers world-wide! Just sign up through the Rafflecopter widget to enter.
If you prefer not to use Rafflecopter, send me an email message (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a note on my Facebook page, and I’ll add you to the list for the draw.
Entries close at midnight Eastern time (GMT-5) on February 10, 2019, so the winners have something to read on Valentine’s Day.
Either put either of this links into your computer, or your phones, and you are in for a chance to win a copy of this book.
<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/49aa98593/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”49aa98593″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_k0qrj5hw”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
If that code doesn’t work, try this link:
You can contact Riana, on several different platforms, including facebook and others;
And lastly, Riana, have been so kind as to afford us a view into her book, through an excerpt;
(Darcy is accompanying Lizzy and her young cousins on an excursion to the park. Twelve-year-old Sammy has formed a wonderful connection with Darcy’s dog Cabal, but he doesn’t do so well with unpredictable pigeons! )
By now they had reached the pond, which was indeed brilliant with a thousand spangles of reflected light. As the children watched their boats sail across the sparkling water, Elizabeth began to wish that she, too, was in possession of a pair of tinted spectacles, for the glare off the water was distracting in its intensity! But the children seemed not to be bothered in the slightest, and even Samuel laughed and dashed about with a carefree smile upon his face that seemed quite unaffected by the brightness. His boat lost to his brother’s, but he contented himself by holding onto Cabal’s lead and scratching the hound’s head at intervals, to the apparent pleasure of both boy and dog.
When the experiment with the boats was complete, Miss Pierce lived up to her promise and handed small sacks of seed to the younger Gardiner children. Lizzy and Mr. Darcy chatted lightly with the governess as the children tossed the seeds to the waiting pigeons and waterfowl, at first one piece at a time, and then as their excitement grew, in greater quantities. Through this, Samuel stood aside under the shade of one of the large trees, lush with the bright green foliage of ripe springtime, one hand holding Cabal’s lead, the other resting on the dog’s furred head, as the beast sat calmly at his side.
“How well they get along together!” Lizzy directed Mr. Darcy’s attention to the pair—boy and dog—in the shade of the tree, just a step away from the noisy children and the hungry birds, and yet a world apart. “I must talk to my aunt again to see if a pet dog could fit into the household. Perhaps you will have some advice for her on the best breeds. I imagine he would do better with one that is large and calm rather than an active sort of a pet.”
“Indeed, Miss Bennet. I have some definite thoughts on the matter, and if she wishes, can inquire about a pup from one of the breeders in Derby—”
His thought was cut short by a great cry from the direction of the pond. Little Julia, in her exuberance and joy, had flung a great handful of seed into the air whilst spinning on her feet as small children are wont to do. Instead of landing at the edge of the pond, as she had surely expected, some of the seeds fell instead by Samuel, and some even ended up in his hair.
The pigeons, quite unconcerned as to where their food landed, began rushing towards the pair in the shade in a flurry of feathers and beaks and loud caws. Sammy’s eyes widened in horror as the birds descended upon him. Some landed inches from his feet, pecking at the seeds on the grass before him; others had seen or smelled the kernels in his hair and flapped about his head. “No!” he cried, waving his hands about him. “No, no, no!”
The wild motion of his hands scattered the flock for a moment, but the damage had been done. Samuel’s voice rang with panic, and as Lizzy watched, his eyes lost focus as he continued to cry out against the aborted attack of feathered fiends. He continued to flail wildly as he shouted, seemingly unaware of his surroundings.
“Miss Elizabeth, watch the children.” Lizzy barely heard Miss Pierce’s voice. It had a been so long a time since last she had witnessed her cousin so distressed that she was quite in shock. Beside her, she sensed rather than observed Mr. Darcy’s similar reaction. He stood perfectly still, eyes fixed unblinking upon her poor cousin and the effects of the trauma caused by the birds.
She blinked. Miss Pierce had spoken, had needed her. “Yes, yes of course! The children.” She gathered the youngsters about her, all three of them wrapped within the circle of her arms. Julia was now crying as well. “I made Sammy sad! I didn’t wanna make him sad. I’m sorry!” The little girl wept, leaving wet stains on Elizabeth’s walking dress and tearing at the flowers on her bonnet.
Thank you for reading, guys! Good luck Guys in the giveaway! And thank you for reading another piece of my blog entries. Wish me luck for my exams!
Until next time, Cheers!